While document finishing may not have the appeal of an eye-catching design element or the rhythm of a running press, it is a key element in the success of almost every print job.
Are there ways to use your finishing capabilities to improve sales or provide added value to your customers. According to the some of the industry’s leading vendors, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
“Those with a full bindery department can steer customers towards more expensive, value added, bindery options such as wire-o, or plastic coil, or more economical products such as perfect bound books,” says David Spiel of Spiel & Associates. “The printer with his own bindery department has more control and a bigger profit margin as well as quicker turnaround times.”
Richard Trapilo of C.P. Bourg agrees. “Generally speaking, if a printer’s bindery can handle both digital and offset print, short runs, occasional or constant ‘books of one’ profitably, then they are in good position to use the bindery to help drive business and profits,” he says.
For printers who are looking for a potential niche market, Kent Dalzell of FastBind USA has a bit of advice. “There is so much information about the growth and opportunity in the photo book and photo album sector, that many commercial printers see the potential and want to also sell into the photography and photo book market,” he points out.
“As commercial printers transition to the newer digital printing technologies, the print quality meets or exceeds the consumer’s expectation for photo books. So by adding in-house finishing of customized hard covers and perfect binding or mounted albums, they can now meet this market’s expectation for the packaging, such as larger book formats,” Dalzell notes.
“Today, it is most important to leverage your finishing capabilities and connect your customers with specific products you offer. For example, ‘24 hour service on business cards’ or ‘customized business forms at great prices,’” adds Rollem International’s Larry Corwin. “To satisfy the offer you are making, it is vitally important to have the correct finishing equipment that allows for fast, reliable, and economic production.”
Hybrid Workflow Requirements
A great number of printers have transitioned to a hybrid offset/digital workflow in recent years. While most are well versed in finishing offset work, there are some different considerations for the digital bindery.
As Trapillo explains, “Digital printing relies on lots of color, often heavy digital ink or toner coverage on coated stocks, and produces collated sets. Therefore, they need binding and finishing equipment with transport mechanisms that won’t misfeed coated paper, won’t disturb or crack inks and toner, and maintain set integrity. They also need automated equipment with operator-friendly digital interfaces that do fast job changeovers and handle short print runs efficiently without waste.
“Obviously, if they opt for in-line finishing systems matched to their digital press such issues should be addressed. But if they want to accommodate a hybrid workflow, they need systems with the flexibility to accommodate uncollated offset output as well as collated digital output while maintaining set integrity,” he says.
“Most finishing machines have designed faster set-up times, keeping consistent with the trend of smaller print runs and the need for fast turnaround,” observes Corwin. “There is a great difference between the qualifications and skill sets of a digital press operator and that of an offset press operator. Finishing machines must be understood by both and, ideally, should be carried over to satisfy the needs of both printing processes.”